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CEO message: Adapting our work in the face of unprecedented challenges

January 8th 2021 at 11:56

WSUP’s Chief Executive, Neil Jeffery, on how we have been adapting to what was a very unusual year.

2020 was a complex and difficult year. However, it was inspiring to see how our global team, supporters and partners pulled together in the face of unprecedented challenges.

Given the impact of the worldwide pandemic, the relevance of our work for low-income urban residents globally has never been clearer, and its value never greater. Our analysis and understanding of long-term continuous water supply and utility strengthening have never been more in demand from governments and partners.

Asha Ali resident of Mombasa
Improving water supply for residents in Mombasa

While we all look forward to what the New Year will bring, it is worth taking some time to reflect on how we responded to what was a very unusual and challenging year for all of us.

Over the last year, we have had to re-orient the business, revise operational plans, change our working practices, strengthen our technology systems, and support our staff through shifting global conditions. Most importantly we have had to act at all times with an awareness of our responsibility not to increase risks for the urban communities that we work with.

We drew upon our experience of implementing major handwashing campaigns, combined with our unique relationship of trust with local utilities, to deliver rapid customer focused targeted communication to combat the spread of Covid-19.

WSUP is a lead partner in multiple cities in Kenya and Ghana for the delivery of the UK government and Unilever initiative – Hygiene & Behaviour Change Coalition (HBCC).

Blog: Handwashing in 2020: Working with utilities to protect the most vulnerable

Provision of handwashing products through the HBCC programme. Credit: Brian Otieno

We are delivering targeted messaging in each city, using our detailed knowledge of utility customer billing, digital messaging, and mass communication to enhance the scale, speed and efficiency of impact. For example, Nairobi Water provides bills and payments by SMS and M-Pesa platforms to customers in the city’s informal settlements, about 70% of the urban population, which gives us an excellent opportunity to target specific COVID messaging to low-income households.

Find out more about WSUP’s response to Covid-19

Many institutions have made commendable efforts to respond to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, with significant investment being directed towards ensuring water is available to all. However, it is worth reflecting on whether these efforts are the most appropriate mechanisms to facilitate better response to future emergencies. WSUP’s Director of WASH Sector Support, Kariuki Mugo, discusses ways that we could all be better prepared in this article.

WSUP is working with the utility JIRAMA in Madagascar to build their capacity and help them deliver higher-quality services. Credit: Tsilavo Rapiera

Alongside the implementation of these immediate measures described above, WSUP continues to focus on promoting the long-term availability of financially viable water supplies, particularly for the poorest residents in cities

Learn more about our steps on creating water solutions that will last

In 2020, WSUP continued to advance progress against its Strategic Goals established in our Business Plan 2020-2025, even in the face of Covid-19. We continued to scale up our award-winning SWEEP business model in Bangladesh which allows low-income customers to access high quality sanitation emptying services at an affordable price point, whilst maintaining the profit margin of local enterprises.

Report: A meeting of mindsets for SDG success

Rangpur citywide inclusive sanitation photoshoot (1)
Marketing SWEEP in Rangpur, Bangladesh

Amid heightened global attention on maintenance of continuous water supply to all city residents, WSUP continues to work through our Utility Strengthening Framework to help utilities manage these heightened challenges.

WSUP also continues to encourage governments and municipalities to invest in stronger utilities and embrace the transformative power of great customer service. Quite simply, individuals will pay for a service that they value, and will value a service that they pay for.

Report: Climate resilience in southern Zambia

We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all our supporters and partners for their continued assistance and encouragement in these challenging times.

Despite the difficult situation we find ourselves in right now, we remain optimistic that 2021 will be a year of renewed opportunities and hope, with much to be achieved. We continue to strive towards our commitment to bring clean water, safe sanitation, and hygiene to people who need it the most.

If you share this commitment, please support our work by donating here.

WSUP announced as Million Lives Club member

December 17th 2020 at 11:53

WSUP has been selected as an official member of the Million Lives Club, in recognition of our work with city authorities in seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia to improve water and sanitation for the poorest residents.

The Million Lives Club celebrates innovators and social entrepreneurs that are scaling and making a significant impact in addressing global development challenges, and the ecosystems and enabling environments that contributed to their growth.

WSUP has been selected for our work alongside local providers, enabling them to develop services, build infrastructure and attract funding so that they can reach low-income communities.

To ensure services can sustainably reach as many people as possible, we work with utilities and businesses on services that generate revenue and advise regulators and governments on how to create an environment in which businesses can thrive.

Since inception, we have helped over 20 million people access improved water, sanitation and hygiene services.

Neil Jeffery, Chief Executive of WSUP said:

“We’re thrilled to become an official member of the Million Lives Club that recognises the importance of a customer-centric focus in global development.

Since we began work in 2005, WSUP has been innovating, testing new technologies and developing new business models that are financially viable, socially equitable and sustainable, helping the poorest urban residents lead healthy and dignified lives. As part of the club, we look forward to new opportunities with like-minded organisations and scaling our innovation to the next level.”

The Million Lives Club is an initiative inspired by members of the International Development Innovation Alliance (IDIA) and supported by a growing partnership of leading development organisations.

Check out our Million Lives Club profile here


New report explores market-based solutions to meet SDG6 targets

December 14th 2020 at 15:33

Inspired by best practice within the private sector, a new report titled ‘A meeting of mindsets’ highlights how social enterprises and sustainable investors can work together to develop market-based solutions to tackle one of the world’s biggest challenges.

Increasing number of mainstream investors are prioritising sustainability initiatives – a welcome addition to the SDG funding landscape where official development assistance as well as philanthropic investments are being stretched to the limit.

Maputo urban city landscape
Aerial view of a low-income community in Maputo

However, many social enterprises, particularly in the WASH sector and those targeting the bottom of the pyramid, are failing to attract these types of investment.

This is mainly because finance sources, including impact investment, is only made available to those businesses that can prove they know how to use it.

“Meeting the global market need for water requires the characteristics of the business sector, such as scale, speed in decision making, communication and marketing, innovation, and large workforces.”

However, being able to qualify for investment whilst demonstrating how it will be used, is often not enough. To win over investors, enterprises must also prove market viability – does it solve a problem or fill a need or is some way be embraced by the market?

A toilet sales agent with residents in Ghana

On the other hand, financers interested in impact investment, should reflect on the extent to which their expectations have been shaped by traditional, commercial investment and private sector norms.

“While most investors are accustomed to two-dimensional risk and return assessment when considering investments, there needs to be a transition to a three-dimensional approach that evaluates risk, return and impact.”

WSUP’s driving vision is to create a world in which all urban residents including the poorest have access to clean water and safe sanitation. Part of this vision involves connecting different actors who can create change in the WASH sector, offering space for collaborative working and drawing on the strengths of development and commercial approaches to both public sector and market-based solutions.

“What WSUP’s work has in common with these inventors, and entrepreneurs, is the desire to change people’s behaviour and in doing so, prove demand and create a self-sustaining market.”
SWEEP – a market-based solution which brings together the private and public sector to provide inclusive, pro-poor sanitation services

Based on our experience, this new report by WSUP’s Innovation & Consumer Needs Team (ICoN) explores how fundamental practices such as managing growth finance and creating and sustaining consumer demand adopted by successful private sector enterprises can be replicated by development actors pursuing market-based solutions; and the role investors can play in shaping the future of social enterprise.

Download the full report here

Read more about this story on the Next Billion website.

Water-smart, inclusive, and integrated: ways to climate-proof sanitation systems

November 19th 2020 at 09:45

What have toilets got to do with climate change? This World Toilet Day, WSUP is highlighting how climate change is placing a growing strain on urban sanitation systems, and looks at ways to improve the climate resiliency of services to the poorest.

Climate change is threatening sanitation systems in cities. Droughts in southern Africa have led to questions over the suitability of water intensive sewer systems, and a growing realisation that other forms of sanitation which use less water may be more effective.

In countries such as Kenya, Mozambique and Bangladesh, climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of flooding which can damage toilets and spread harmful waste through communities.

What can cities do to ensure that everyone has access to safe sanitation in the face of an ever-changing climate?

WSUP has identified three ways to tackle the issue:

Water-smart sanitation systems

In urban areas, traditional sewered sanitation systems use a lot of water. As water availability reduces, so the importance of making best use of existing water resources increases. With a 50% increase in urban water demands forecast for the next 30 years, the systems that made sense 50 years ago may no longer be fit for the future.

In the informal settlement of Mukuru in Nairobi, one of the biggest slums in Kenya, simplified sewers that use much less water than conventional sewerage are being introduced by the Nairobi City Water & Sewerage Company (NCWSC).

In some places hit by droughts, such as in southern Zambia, water providers are forced to rely more on groundwater – but in urban settings, groundwater is often polluted by unmanaged sanitation.

Peri-urban community Livingstone
A peri-urban community in Livingstone, Zambia

Southern Water & Sanitation Company Limited (SWSC), the utility responsible for serving customers across 13 districts containing several urban centres, has understood the need to focus more on providing onsite sanitation, particularly to those marginalised communities who live outside of the central urban areas where sewers are not available. As well as improving access to sanitation for people living in peri-urban communities, this work aims to improve water quality for everyone.

Read the full report here – Building resilience to climate change: experiences from southern Zambia

Citywide inclusive sanitation

Poorly designed sanitation systems result in harmful germs being spread through communities, a phenomenon exacerbated by heavy rains and flooding.

The Ngong river passes through the Mukuru settlement and every time it rains, there is regular flooding in the entire settlement. The floodwater mixes with faecal waste from the latrines which then finds its way into people’s homes.

New research commissioned by WSUP is revealing the extent of the problem of faecal waste in communities. A study in one low-income community in Dhaka, Bangladesh, shows the alarmingly high frequency of germs in low-income urban communities suffering from inadequate sanitation.

The research found that health outcomes can be significantly improved with well-managed, closed drains and, when safely managed, fully sealed containment systems are in place and frequently emptied. Though the research is specific to Dhaka, it has relevance for other cities that are facing similar issues.

Clara Mariano (pictured above) is a resident of Chipangrara in Beira, one of many areas in Mozambique affected by increased flooding due to climate change. Poor drainage means that when the area floods her yard fills with wastewater, exposing her family to dangerous diseases.

“The water flow is a mess, I protected my yard but nothing seems to have worked, the yard is usually flooded with water, it is extremely difficult to live under such conditions.”

Following the devastating impact of Cyclone Idai, WSUP has been working to deliver sustainable, long-term water and sanitation solutions to help mitigate the effects of climate change for thousands of low-income residents in Beira.

Read more in this blog – Climate recovery in Beira: sustainable water and sanitation access for a more resilient city

Integrated approach to urban development

Where urban communities flood, fragile toilet infrastructure can easily be damaged, causing residents to have to rebuild in the wake of floods. It is often the poorest residents, who can least afford it, who live in the areas most vulnerable to heavy rains and see their facilities damaged. This also has a major impact on people’s health, dignity and well-being.

Flooding in Rangpur

Cities like Rangpur in Bangladesh are experiencing rainfall at an unprecedented level over the last couple of years, leaving residents with little or no access to proper sanitation facilities. In September, 433mm of rain fell in 30 hours, submerging nearly a third of the city and leaving 500,000 city dwellers trapped in their homes.

Read this story here – How climate change is worsening sanitation in Rangpur, Bangladesh

Tackling the climate change impacts on sanitation in disadvantaged communities will require a coordinated effort with other urban service providers. Residents who are unable to afford safe emptying services have no choice but to dump sanitation waste in open drains and rivers, contaminating the entire water cycle.

An open sewer in Githima, Nakuru county, Kenya

Without rubbish collection services, solid waste blocks up drains, and stormwater builds up in these channels, spreading filthy water through communities. It is therefore vital for sanitation to be considered alongside drainage and solid waste management services.

Too much water or too little water – climate change is damaging people’s ability to have access to safe sanitation.

But with the right action, WSUP believes that cities can ensure that the poorest, most vulnerable people have access to sustainable sanitation that can withstand climate change.

Read more about WSUP’s work on climate change

Top image: Melita Zeca lives in the cyclone-hit area of Beira where there isn’t safe and affordable waste collection services thus affecting the health of the residents. 

How climate change is worsening sanitation in Rangpur, Bangladesh

November 17th 2020 at 13:52

For residents like Samsuddin Mia (pictured above), access to a safe and decent toilet is vital in the wake of extreme weather conditions.

Long and heavy rains from June to December are not an uncommon occurrence for residents living in northern parts of Bangladesh.

However, over the last couple of years, cities like Rangpur in the region have experienced rainfall at an unprecedented level during the monsoon season leaving residents with little or no access to proper sanitation facilities.

In September alone, the city witnessed 433mm of rain in a span of 30 hours, submerging nearly a third of the city and leaving 500,000 city dwellers trapped in their homes.

In some areas, there was water logging for nearly fifteen days. The poorest have suffered the most forcing them to move out of their homes and seek refuge with their relatives in nearby areas or in emergency shelters where more than 100 people have access to one toilet.

WSUP is currently working in 10 primary schools for improvements of school sanitation facilities and in their catchment communities in Rangpur. All these communities are situated in the low-lying areas of the city which were under water for three days.

Construction of sanitation facilities on hold as the primary school in Kamarpara is affected by the floods

The aftermath of the floods has left already poor sanitation structures extremely vulnerable, impacting people’s health, dignity and well-being.

Flood water in a resident’s home

Ms Marjina, a resident from Kamarpara – one of the worst affected low-income communities’ said: “the investment for a toilet is too high compared to our financial status. Yet we chose to invest as we know this will bring good health – but reinvesting every year might not be possible for us and many might choose to go back to unimproved options.”

With the unusual rain patterns over the last two years, many residents of this community agree, assuming that this will continue to happen over the coming years.

Another major problem affecting the city is the waste collection systems that are poorly designed, resulting in harmful germs spreading through communities, a phenomenon exacerbated by heavy rains and flooding.

Research recently conducted by ITN-BUET and WSUP found that 45% of toilets in Rangpur have faulty containment systems, many of which were connected to open drains which then mixed with the external environment.

Open drains like the one pictured above are common in Rangpur

The floods in Kamarpara saw sanitation waste from the septic tanks mixing with the floodwater leading to health problems like diarrhoea, dysentery and other skin diseases among the residents.

The picture is not very different in other cities in Bangladesh and it is the poorest who are the worst affected by climate change.

As we mark World Toilet Day this week, we need to act now to ensure that everyone has access to sustainable sanitation that can withstand climate change.

To tackle the impacts of flooding in disadvantaged communities, city authorities need to place more focus on developing climate resilient services for the poorest to ensure communities are healthy and functioning.

Improved toilet construction and ensuring drains are closed rather than open can help. Sanitation also needs to be considered alongside drainage and solid waste management programmes to help reduce the health impacts of poor sanitation in times of heavy rain or flooding.

Even without climate change, access to sanitation in vulnerable urban communities is extremely low in Bangladesh. But with climate change ramping up, and increasing the risk of flooding across the country, living conditions for the poorest may get even worse without concerted action.

Find out more about WSUP's work on climate change

Learn more about our work in Bangladesh


Five lessons for sustainable business development

December 16th 2019 at 09:50

Highlights from a global knowledge exchange with WSUP’s business development leads.   

By Annie Hall, WSUP Marketing Specialist

The WSUP London office was recently joined by seven of our Business Development Leads representing each of WSUP’s programme countries. The purpose was to further develop WSUP’s approach to business modelling, investigating the concept of business maturity and how to work with different financiers, particularly around how ‘value’ is defined.

Throughout the week the group met with key WSUP stakeholders and discussed the UK’s leading work in the areas of sustainability and the furtherment of the SDGs.

WSUP’s latest Business Plan outlines how, as an organisation, we’re becoming even more focused on new and innovative ways to deliver on SDG 6. Our business development champions in-country are core to realising this ambition.

The week brought together speakers, trainers and practitioners from within and outside the WASH sector. We shared ideas and experiences from a variety of backgrounds, yet we discovered the same themes kept coming to the fore, and not by design of the agenda.

WSUP’s business development leads during a session

Whilst the specific steps on the road towards SDG 6 may be diverse and dynamic, there is evident consensus that successful strategies will have some core principles in common:

A true shared vision

Whether we were talking about launching a brand, aligning a project team or pitching for impact investment, building a shared vision around the real value in your proposition came up time and time again.

Early in the week, Caroline Copeman, a consultant at CASS Business School and the Centre for Charity Effectiveness introduced us to dynamic strategy. She challenged us to resist thinking in terms of programmes and interventions and instead think about the customer and what they value the most. An example she gave was a telephone-based debt advice service, stressing that service users don’t really want great debt advice, they want a debt free life! It was clear that with this perspective in mind, far more valuable solutions could be designed.

Lisa Hawkes, Sustainable Behaviour Change Manager at Unilever really brought home the true value of having a clear vision and purpose to any product or business. She talked about Unilever’s commitment to designing for sustainability but stressed that this commitment is not simply a CSR initiative. It is core to Unilever’s success as purpose-led brands grow 69% faster on average.

During the week, these ideas were put into practice as we explored different brand strategy models and how they might help utilities or sanitation SMEs, identify their core value and use it to guide their culture and business growth strategy.

Passion for the problem

Another salient piece of advice came again from our partners at Deloitte and links closely with the concept of purpose and vision – “Fall in love with the problem, not the solution”.

This statement is all about user focus, human centred design principles and customer centricity, but more fundamentally it’s about not getting caught up in the excitement (or perhaps the safe familiarity) of your solution. Doing so may mean that you fail to notice there are better ways to solve the problem.

The consensus agreed that when it comes to tackling challenges as large and complex as the WASH crisis, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Any favoured solutions should always be held lightly to make space for continued interrogation and learning. When reflecting on recent projects, Jane Olley, Technical Manager of WSUP Advisory, summarised “you don’t use business modelling to give the answer, you use it to explore the question”.

Solid stakeholder management

Throughout the week we shared learnings from WSUP countries. Our colleagues in Bangladesh shared their experience in developing a public-private partnership between the municipal authorities and local entrepreneurs to transform pit-emptying services in multiple cities across the country.

Blog: How a sanitation waste partnership is transforming cities in Bangladesh

When trying to engage key stakeholders and influencers, change-makers must often answer an all-important question: “What’s in it for me?”. This topic prompted much debate when discussing how to encourage service providers to adopt a customer-centric approach. An increase in customer focus can involve seemingly more laborious ways of working due to the inherent need to optimise operations to enhance the end user experience. Consequently, being able to present the business value to be gained i.e. through increased customer satisfaction and retention is crucial.

SWEEP: A public-private pit-emptying service in Bangladesh

Making the business case is all about tapping into what motivates stakeholders to act. Andy Wales, a WSUP board director and Chief Digital Impact & Sustainability Officer at BT argued that bringing about real change always involves effort from lots of people. However, when the incentives are right, human beings adjust their behaviour quite happily. Using smartphone adoption as an example, he challenged us to consider how quickly populations might react to climate change if the adjustments in their behaviour were as rewarding as learning to use a new phone.

Capacity building at the core

Capacity building was a common thread that ran throughout the week. As another key message from the UN High Level Political Forum, there was much debate around the role of organisations like WSUP in supporting service providers to become more efficient, effective and accountable – especially to low income communities.

Kendal Atcliffe, Public Sector – Programme Leadership at Deloitte proposed that capability strengthening is the key differentiator to a programme and should be a necessary pre-condition of working with any organisation.  

‘Stronger service providers’ is one of the primary focus areas for WSUP’s latest business plan which explains how we intend to strengthen and extend our technical and business support to utilities, municipalities and WASH enterprises. However, each of our external strategic focus areas are supported by two internal commitments to develop our own organisational skill sets and strengthen learning capabilities within WSUP. This event is a prime example of this commitment in action.

Rigorous evidence

WSUP is well-known for our evidence, research and learning efforts with programmes such as the Urban Sanitation Research Initiative seeking to influence large-scale sector change. However, we also recognise that sector change requires innovation and new approaches – and with innovation comes pilot activity, business case development and careful market assessments.

During the week each Business Development Lead contributed their own experiences of trial and error in their respective markets. For example, our colleagues in Zambia spoke about how rigorous market assessments were crucial to building necessary relationships with utility Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company to implement innovative WASH models.

Faecal sludge management services in Lusaka

It’s clear that having a strategy with supporting research is a project component that knits each of our themes together. It helps to align multiple stakeholders around one vision, maintains focus on the problem and win over stakeholders while gaining necessary buy-in from the staff that need to be engaged for capacity building.

Managing all the moving actors and factors required to effect real change is a sector-wide issue and something we hope WSUP’s innovative, multi-partner approach can start to refine. Strengthening internal and external partnerships with learning activities is just the beginning.

If you’re interested in finding out more about WSUP’s latest thinking on a change in approach for tackling citywide WASH, check out our Systems Reboot report.

Ghana reactivates the call for a National Sanitation Authority

December 4th 2019 at 11:04

Plans for a new national sanitation body in Ghana have been reactivated by the government, raising the hope of accelerated efforts towards universal coverage. But serious challenges remain.

By Azzika Yussif Tanko, Research & Policy Lead for WSUP in Ghana

The National Sanitation Authority (NSA) will focus on coordinating national sanitation improvements, with a proposed National Sanitation Fund (NSF) aiming to mobilise increased funding for sanitation services in the country.

The commitment was made by the Mole XXX Conference in early November by the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumina, following two years of discussions with the sanitation sector. The Authority and the Fund will form part of Ghana’s Ministry for Sanitation and Water Resources playing a critical role in regulations and standards setting.

Why is this such a big step forward in Ghana?

Institutions that deal with sanitation issues at both local and national levels in Ghana tend to be weak, culminating in low progress achieved on sanitation over the years. The challenges are complex – just see the report WSUP published recently, Sales Glitch, which analyses systemic challenges to building a market for sanitation products and services, as an example of some of the difficulties.

Poor sanitation facilities in Kumasi

Nationally, just 21% of Ghanaians have access to at least basic sanitation. Rates of open defecation are also increasing, and in urban areas, a large amount of residents are dependent on public toilets which are often filthy, unsafe and over time, more expensive than other forms of sanitation facilities.

The costs of this poor sanitation is devastating: annually, about 19,000 Ghanaians, including about 3,600 children under five, die of diarrhoea-related infections. In 2014 alone, more than 29,000 people were infected with cholera out of which 248 lost their lives.

Sanitation waste collection services

The importance of a National Sanitation Authority cannot be overestimated. Compared to water, the sanitation sector is making slow progress, and the government urgently needs a strategic body that can accelerate and fast track universal sanitation services delivery in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It will take on the responsibility for many sanitation governance functions such as formulating policy, developing legal frameworks, planning, coordination, funding and financing, capacity development, data acquisition and monitoring, standards setting and regulation.

WSUP has been advising the government of Ghana, alongside other partners such as CONIWAS, the Coalition of NGOs in Water & Sanitation. In a report published last year upon the completion of an international institutional comparative study, WSUP recommended that the NSA should have five important functions:

  • Institutional development and sector coordination
  • Research and development, standard setting
  • Infrastructure development
  • Capacity building of Municipal, Metropolitan and District Assemblies
  • Monitoring and regulation

Report - Ghana’s National Sanitation Authority: recommended role and responsibilities

Even though the National Sanitation Authority and Fund are yet to be fully set up, some lessons have been learnt in the process about how organisations such as WSUP can support government institutional change.

First, influencing government for institutional set up takes time and therefore demands a lot of patience, since process can be very slow, iterative and frustrating.

But the most important is never give up and never say it’s impossible, it can always be done no matter the challenges.

Second, influencing also works better when coalitions are formed. The collaboration between WSUP and CONIWAS and Media Coalition on Open Defection (M-CODe) in Ghana also helped a lot in pushing the government to this far.

Setting up the NSA, and ensuring that it is effective, will be challenging. In the international institutional review study, conducted for the Ghanaian government, WSUP identified that no other country – of the 15 countries analysed – had an equivalent sanitation body which holds as many roles as it proposed for the NSA. WSUP will continue to advise the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources on the set-up of the NSA and the accompanying Fund.

Top image: Sanitation block construction

A vision of a Green City: can improved sanitation help?

November 19th 2019 at 09:30

With nearly half the urban population in Bangladesh lacking access to safe sanitation services, a sanitation waste partnership between the public and private sector, is helping tackle the challenge.

In Bangladesh, nearly 60 million residents live in urban areas. Utilities and are struggling to cope with this rapid urban growth. Delivering citywide sanitation services is a major challenge.

How can city authorities deliver services at the scale required to serve everyone in a city?

Enter SWEEP, a public-private partnership that has enabled the private sector to deliver profitable waste collection services.

The Mayor of Rangpur, Mostafizar Rahman Mostafa said, “If we can systematically collect the faecal waste and dispose it in a planned manner, then our dream of a Green City may come true.”

Watch our new film to find out how we’ve been working with city authorities and businesses to bring improved sanitation services for all urban residents.

Rebooting the system: Lessons from Lusaka and Maputo

November 18th 2019 at 14:33

To mark World Toilet Day, we’ve launched a new report which identifies steps needed to support cities in delivering citywide sanitation services.

The report, entitled Systems Reboot, identifies four components crucial to bringing change for all urban residents:

  1. Begin by optimising one part of the system, to overcome institutional inertia and secure buy-in for wider change
  2. Embrace the power of process, recognising that simply bringing people together to discuss challenges can help to move change forward
  3. Design investments to address genuine system constraints, rather than purely directing investment towards more tangible infrastructure projects
  4. Anticipate and factor in delays, due to the likelihood of unexpected political, economic or capacity constraints slowing down progress

Read Systems Reboot now

In one in seven countries, access to basic sanitation is decreasing. Even in cities, where access to safely managed sanitation is more prevalent than in rural areas, gaps between the rich and the poor continue to be stark.

Building toilets is important but it cannot be the solution. A systems approach is needed to address the issue.

Using systems thinking principles, the report discusses how complex, widespread change happens across cities, offering recommendations for other urban policymakers attempting to remove barriers to universal access to sanitation.

The findings are based on in-depth analysis of 10 years of action in Lusaka and Maputo, facilitating discussions with around 20 key city stakeholders and using systems thinking to identify interdependencies between multiple actors, projects and initiatives.

Each case study looks at one particular component of the system that was identified by stakeholders as being significant: a community-based, utility-managed faecal sludge management (FSM) service in Lusaka, and the planned introduction of a sanitation tariff in Maputo.

For sale: safe sanitation in Ghana

November 12th 2019 at 10:24

“I have lived in this compound for the past few years without a toilet. You have to deal with the inconvenience of using a public toilet,” says 60-year-old Yaa Achiaa.

Kumasi, one of Ghana’s fastest growing urban centres, is home to 3 million people and nearly half live in informal settlements. Around 60% of the households in these settlements use public toilets. These facilities are often poorly maintained, unhygienic and unsafe, particularly for women using them at night.

A public toilet in Ghana

Yaa who lives in a compound with other residents and has no choice but to use the public toilet. “You cannot use the public toilet at night and even if you manage to get one, there are safety concerns to worry about including many other disadvantages. The ordeal is even worse for older people like me.”

Yaa Achiaa is a resident in Kumasi and recently had a toilet installed in her compound

However, public toilets continue to be culturally and politically accepted and only few financing options are available to residents to build household or compound toilets.

Amidst this difficult environment, WSUP has been working to improve Ghana’s sanitation market to ensure the poorest residents have access to this basic service. This has been through the Sanitation Service Delivery Programme (SSD), a USAID regional urban sanitation five-year project which aims to promote and increase access to improved sanitation services as well as enhance regional learning to inform market-based sanitation programmes.

Overall, the project found the sanitation market extremely challenging and as it draws to a close, we look at some of the lessons we learnt:

Cost-effective toilet models can improve services for the poorest residents

Compound housing is a common form of habitation for the low-income residents of urban Ghana and tenants usually share living space with more than twenty other people. The vast majority of them have no access to in-house sanitation.

The cost of constructing and maintaining in-house toilets is a major barrier to improving their sanitation facilities.

Read - Why are toilets so expensive in Ghana? Experience from Kumasi

Over the five years of the programme, different toilet designs were tested to identify the ones most suitable for the poorest residents.

Thomas Sarfo has been a toilet artisan for the last 12 years. On being selected to undergo training on one of the new designs he said, “I had been hearing that the new toilet was going to be a cheaper. I saw the training as an opportunity to widen my product offering.”

Thomas is an entrepreneur who sells toilets in Ghana

“Sales were very low and was hence a threat to my job. But now I’m now able to construct four toilets in a month which is a significant improvement.”

He cited the introduction of the double pit latrine as a cheaper option and flexible financing arrangements as the reason behind increased sales.

“The double pit toilet is more affordable and best suited for peri-urban communities like mine…I build full toilets at half cost and have householders repay the remaining half in instalments. It may not sound like anything new, but I get more orders for installation with this approach…”

Sales agents: an effective link between artisans and customers

After testing three toilet sales business models, we found that the most effective approach to achieving toilet sales was through Toilet Sales Agents (TSAs).

Twenty-three year old Toilet Sales Agent, Esther Yeboah, along with her team utilised a number of strategies in creating demand for the uptake of toilet construction. This included house-to-house promotion, target group promotion through churches and identified groups, mini durbars and the use of community information centres.

Esther, a toilet sales agent, with residents

Esther believes that the programme has helped change people’s behaviour.

“Now many residents appreciate the relevance of compound toilets and they are making efforts to own one or upgrade existing ones. Through the project we have been able to market and facilitate construction/improvement of 10 toilets in my assembly.  Besides there are a number of ongoing projects which are expected to be completed soon.”

Yaa no longer has to worry about using the public toilet as she and other tenants managed to convince their landlady who also lives in the compound to invest in a toilet.  They were also happy for the landlady increase their rent to cater to the cost of the toilet and make a monthly contribution to save towards emptying costs in the next three years. Yaa says, “The toilet works well, and we are happy with it.”

Though Esther thinks she and her team could have sold more toilets, she is mindful of the challenges that affected sales. Some of these include difficulty in meeting target groups at homes due to economic activities, absentee landlords, multiple landlords for a single property, the low income levels of target customers, and complicated eligibility requirements to secure loans to construct toilets.

Read - Sales glitch: Can Ghana unblock its toilet sales market?

Making financing more accessible

In Ghana, only those who own their own homes are eligible for the few loans that are available for sanitation. And the majority of low-income customers prefer to finance their toilets without loans from financial institutions due to the lengthy process involved.

Construction of new compound toilets

WSUP has partnered with Micro-Financing Institutions (MFIs) such as Sinapi Aba to offer loans to households and artisans. We have learnt that it is important that financial institutions develop their marketing approach and design their loans so that access to credit is easier and fits with the customers’ ability to repay.

By having flexible loans and alterative repayment methods such as mobile money (payment through mobile phones) can make financing more accessible for low-income customers.

Read - How can sanitation actors in Ghana stimulate toilet loan uptake?

Partnerships are key for sustainable change

Partnerships with Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) and Ga West Municipal Assembly (GWMA) have been vital to facilitate the implementation of the project. Both municipal assemblies, with whom local development lies, adopted compound sanitation implementation strategies and supported sanitation enforcement. Using their capacity, they mobilised community support for the project.

Their Environmental Health and Sanitation Departments (EHSDs) for example, were actively involved in the programme, thus creating a conducive environment for promotion of household sanitation. By having linkages with artisans and TSAs the municipal assemblies can play a central role in sustaining sanitation service delivery.

Read more about our work in Ghana


Clean Hands for All: addressing handwashing disparities

October 15th 2019 at 08:38

In cities, though the coverage of basic handwashing facilities is higher compared to rural areas, there are significant gaps between the richest and poorest.

In fact, in many countries, basic services in the most deprived urban communities are actually worse than in rural areas.

Inequalities in handwashing facilities can put individuals at higher risk, impacting their health, education, and well-being.

Globally, 272 million school days are missed every year because of diarrhoea caused by poor hygiene practices and lack of facilities. Handwashing with soap is vital to combat the spread of diseases. WSUP works to improve handwashing facilities in schools and promote handwashing with soap as this has the greatest impact on children’s health.

Here’s how WSUP is addressing the issue:

In Madagascar, thanks to the support of funders like Dubai Cares, USAID and The Coca-Cola Foundation, as well as the utility JIRAMA, improved handwashing facilities are enabling children like Mitia lead healthier lives.

Previously, Mitia and the other students in her school would have to draw water from a well and would have to wait for their teachers to help them because the buckets were too heavy. Due to the time spent on collecting water, some of the children would not wash their hands and would go straight into class.

Now thanks to the new sanitation block and the weekly hygiene lessons, the students understand the importance of maintaining good hygiene habits. Mitia, who dreams about becoming a doctor, is always on the lookout for students who don’t wash their hands and reminds them to do so.

“Thank you WSUP for giving this beautiful toilet block which also has a shower and handwashing facilities. It has changed our lives and improved hygiene habits. At home, my parents have also understood the importance of washing our hands with soap.”

In Naivasha, Kenya, students at the Kongoni Primary school were missing out on school due to illnesses caused by poor sanitation facilities in the school.

Simon, the deputy headmaster of the school remarks, “The school used to have a few latrines that were shared between the boys and the girls in the school.  Sanitation was a problem. On average we had 12 – 15 students going to hospital for stomach related illness due to poor facilities.”

With the support of The One Foundation, a new toilet block with handwashing facilities were built for the students.

“The number of cases of sanitation related illness has reduced. We encourage the students to wash their hands after using the toilet. The water after washing hands is recycled used to flush the toilets and water the trees and flowers,” says Simon.

Student Charity is very pleased with the new facilities, “After the building of the new toilet blocks, the girls have more confidence and they enjoy their privacy. We are more comfortable. We now use the new blocks and wash our hands.”

Ensuring access to hygiene facilities is important but is only a first step. Behaviour change is essential for making handwashing a habit.

What better way to do this than involving children in soap-making while teaching them to wash their hands thoroughly at critical times. In Maputo, Mozambique, with the support of Wasser für Wasser, WSUP is partnering with local soap manufacturer MBEU to promote hygiene education in schools. Through soap-making workshops, children are learning about the importance of good hygiene habits in a fun and interactive way. MBEU will also be supplying soaps to the schools we work with in Maputo, as part of our ongoing hygiene promotion activities.

WSUP also works on behaviour change at the institutional level. For example, In Ghana, we’re working with the Ministry of Education on adoption of standards toilet designs across schools in Accra and Kumasi, taking into account children’s needs, thus benefiting their health and school attendance.

By working with education systems, we can create change that is lasting whilst ensuring that no one is left behind.

Top image: Promoting hygiene awareness in Twalumba primary school as part of the Global Handwashing Day celebrations in Lusaka, Zambia.

UNC Water and Health Conference: Where Science Meets Policy, 2019

September 26th 2019 at 14:31

Join us the 2019 Water and Health Conference to discuss how to assess WaSH services citywide, what role shared sanitation could have in bringing safely managed sanitation to all, and our experience supporting the development of inclusive sanitation markets. Findings from several Urban Sanitation Research Initiative projects will also be presented by our research partners.

Organized by the Water Institute at the University of North Carolina, the conference will take place from 7 – 11 October, exploring drinking water supply, sanitation, hygiene and water resources with a strong emphasis on public health.

Side events

Citywide measurement of WaSH services levels for SDG 6: progress so far
Convenors: Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor, Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene
Tuesday 8 October, 10:30 – 12:00 pm

In the push for universal water and sanitation access, limited tracking of intra-city inequalities presents a major monitoring challenge. Most household surveys and censuses are not designed to provide disaggregated information covering those living in informal settlements. Rapid population growth in these areas presents major service delivery challenges, and granular data is required to help authorities plan inclusive service improvements.

This participatory session will discuss these challenges and progress made in addressing this evidence gap. Through an online, interactive dashboard, WSUP will discuss our experience of piloting citywide assessments of WaSH service quality in low-income communities in seven cities. We will illustrate key findings from this major study and to make this data readily available and accessible for WaSH practitioners, donors, researchers, institutional partners, governments, and international agencies.

Report - Citywide surveys of water and sanitation service levels: design and methodology

Understanding demand for WaSH services: how much are consumers willing to pay?
Convenors: Harvard Kennedy School of Government, The Aquaya Institute, Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor
Wednesday 9 October, 8:30 – 10 am

Reaching the SDGs for water and sanitation will require substantial additional investments. Leveraging consumer demand is key to meeting the SDGs in a “sustainable” way- first, because it unlocks a significant source of funding, but secondly, because if consumers have sufficient demand for WaSH products and services, they will pay to maintain and even improve their existing situations.

In this workshop we will discuss some of the latest empirical findings for consumer WTP. We will discuss the different methods used to assess WTP in each setting, and will also discuss the implications of the magnitude of the values measured with these methods for mobilizing funds and improving water and sanitation coverage and quality.

Report - Willingness of Kenyan water utility customers to pay a pro-poor sanitation surcharge

The Maputo Sanitation (MapSan) Trial: measuring health, environmental, and social impacts of an urban sanitation intervention in Mozambique
Convenors: Georgia Institute of Technology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID
Wednesday 9 October, 10:30 am – 12 pm

This side event is a proposed in-depth discussion of the largest controlled health impact trial of an urban sanitation intervention to date: the Maputo Sanitation (MapSan) Trial.

The goal of this panel discussion is to (1) provide a conscise description of study findings for health outcomes, environmental measures, and social research; (2) place these findings in the context of urban sanitation and sanitation impact research more broadly.

Report - High-quality shared toilets can reduce women’s feelings of stress due to fear of violence

An agenda setting workshop for “Limited” (Shared) Sanitation: user experiences, measurement, and improvement approaches
Convenors: Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor, Sanitation and Hygiene Applied Research for Equity
Thursday 10 October, 10:30 am – 12:00 pm

This session will lead to the creation of a research agenda for establishing the role of shared sanitation in bringing safely managed sanitation to all. The sessions will employ a “quick fire” format whereby several early career researchers will be allowed 1 slide and 5 minutes to summarize their recent research on shared sanitation and what it means for the future research agenda followed by group discussion on key themes.

Report - High-quality shared sanitation: how can we define that?

Creating inclusive sanitation markets for the urban poor: lessons from West Africa
Convenors: Population Services International, Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor, USAID
Friday 11 October, 10:30 – 12:00 pm

This side event will synthesize the learning from a 5-year program—Sanitation Service Delivery (SSD)—which aimed to create a more effective, efficient, and inclusive sanitation market for the urban poor in Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, and Ghana. The event will explore three core challenges related to sanitation market development, presenting the learning from West Africa—before broadening the discussion to leverage the experience and perspectives of the audience.

Verbal presentations

Supply and demand: assessing costs and willingness-to-pay for urban sanitation in Bangladesh, Ghana, and Kenya
Aquaya Institute
Thursday 10 October, 2:30 – 3:30 pm

Poster presentations

Modelling pathogen flows in Urban environments: case study in Dhaka, Bangladesh and its wider implications
University of Technology Sydney
Monday 7 October, 5:00 – 6:30 pm

Gender inequity and attitudinal differences across genders among decision-makers in Kenya’s sanitation sector
Athena Infonomics
Wednesday 9 October, 5:00 – 6.30 pm


Six months after two deadly cyclones, Mozambique needs more than just rebuilding

September 4th 2019 at 20:21

Mozambique will need all the help it can get first to deliver basic services like housing and sanitation, and then to ensure they are built to last.

This article was first published on Thomson Reuters Foundation News.

By Carla Costa, Country Programme Manager for WSUP in Mozambique

The official government plan to rebuild Mozambique after two deadly cyclones hit the impoverished country earlier this year has taken six months to finalise, but it is likely to take a decade or more for Mozambique to return the same state as before the storms.

Yet, returning to pre-cyclone standards alone will neither be enough to properly serve communities nor to build greater resilience to future extreme weather events, made more intense by climate change.

Parts of the capital Beira have been reconnected to the water network, but six months after Cyclone Idai made landfall, buildings remain without roofs and hundreds of families are marooned in resettlement centres far from their daily lives.

As the humanitarian effort rescinds and recovery gets under way, what Beira needs now is firstly to resettle families in proper conditions.

At present, nearly still being housed outside of Beira in resettlement centres where there are limited utility services and few options to make living.

As a result, people have started returning to the city during the week to earn money, returning to jobs including selling fish, salt dry fish and dry prawns, and then going back to resettlement centres at the weekends.

This population urgently needs access not only to basic public services, including sanitation waste management, but also viable options for livelihoods and education so they can properly restart their lives.

Secondly, the residents of Beira need more support in adopting the best possible hygiene practices, such as washing hands with soap and how to correctly store drinking water in the short-term, while permanent infrastructure and services are rebuilt.

Even before the cyclones, makeshift septic tanks were regularly emptied into the streets but with many household toilets destroyed in the storm and others without mains water, families have resorted to open defecation, raising serious public health issues and disease risk.

And in the resettlement centres, for example, families have previously endured shortages of limited water supply but also staff to operate the water system, meaning they are reliant on temporary supplies from standpipes, which do not have the capacity to serve all the day-to-day needs of these communities.

Some information has reached communities to raise awareness of short-term health and hygiene issues, but both the message and means of safe hygiene practices using clean, quality water must be extended to everyone.

Finally, Mozambique urgently needs to invest in better drainage. With low-lying Beira already vulnerable to flooding, improved drainage would help the city cope with these kinds of extreme events.

Better drainage infrastructure would also then support better sanitation and waste management by preventing the already-limited sewage system, which is often emptied manually, from regularly overflowing.

In the recovery of Beira, authorities must go beyond simply rebuilding what previously existed and develop longer-term and more resilient systems that, together with awareness campaigns, give families the chance to live dignified lives.

Returning to the status quo is a bar too low for a country like Mozambique, which is Africa’s third most vulnerable country to climate change and where only a quarter of the population has access to mains water.

Instead, the government and public agencies, supported where necessary by partners, need to recognise the changes needed to accommodate the emerging realities of rapid population growth, urbanisation and climate change. The answer lies in a combination of improved physical infrastructure and behaviour change.

As a partner on the ground in Mozambique, Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) is among the organisations that can support this, but the responsibility ultimately lies with the government and its agencies.

As we have found, low income need not be a barrier to accessing key services like water, and creative solutions such as shared toilets can help address an infrastructure need with limited resources.

Mozambique will need all the help it can get first to deliver basic services like housing and sanitation, and then to ensure they are built to last.

Water doesn’t come out of a tap…

August 28th 2019 at 15:16

…It comes out of a system. This is not just a system of infrastructure but also that of people, institutions and politics which manage it.

Given that cities and towns will be home to two-thirds of the urban population by 2050, improving the system that enables taps and toilets to function has never been more important.

So how does WSUP enable systems to work better?

We do this through:

  1. Effective policies and regulations

Policies and regulations which give clarity on responsibilities, incentivise action, and provide the right environment for the private sector.

  1. Enhanced skills and capacity

Stronger public and private sector service providers, and more effective government.

  1. Improved investment

Investment plans, improved financial management, and targeted investment from international financial institutions

Take a look at how water flows through cities, and how different parts of the system interact to affect whether residents living in the poorest parts of a city can get access to clean, safe, water:

This approach to systems change is rooted in our Sector Functionality Framework, a tool for identifying issues and priorities in urban areas, underpinned by an organisational commitment to learning.


A utility strengthening approach to tackling water scarcity

June 25th 2019 at 12:39

Just a few kilometres from the thunder of the largest waterfall in the world is not the most obvious place to expect water shortages.

Yet in Livingstone, southern Zambia, that’s exactly the situation.

Despite its proximity to Victoria Falls it has, like most cities in Africa, many communities which lack basic services such as water and sanitation.

But what it doesn’t lack, is a utility determined to tackle this issue – Southern Water & Sewerage Company (SWASCO). The utility has recognised the need to extend services into the city’s underserved communities and with the support of WSUP, and funding from enabling partner Wasser fuer Wasser (WfW), is now embarking on a plan to tackle this issue.

Against what the MD of SWASCO describes as a “backdrop of serious challenges in the availability of water resource as a result of the severe drought in the country, especially the southern half of the country”, a stronger utility is vital if all urban residents in Livingstone are to benefit from clean water.

What will SWASCO, which is responsible for water provision in Livingstone, need to do to extend services to the poorest communities?

Building momentum

WSUP’s and WfW’s work with SWASCO commenced last year with an infrastructure project in the peri-urban area of Burton.

Burton has a population of approximately 8,000 people and until a few months ago, most of the residents would have to buy water from the few households that had water connections. The areas was served by dilapidated infrastructure which resulted in high levels of leaks, erratic water supply and poor water quality. The poor relations between SWASCO and the community often led to unpaid water bills, and further deterioration of the service.

With support from WSUP and WfW, SWASCO was able to introduce a new water network, using high quality pipes which are expected to dramatically reduce leakage. The utility in Lusaka, Lusaka Water & Sewerage Company, provided advice on how best to install the pipes to make the most of the advanced polyethylene material.

Residents such as Matilda Mumba Bwalya are now able to get a household connection, guaranteeing a regular supply of water right within their property.

“With the water connected to my house directly, I now start my business early because I do not spend most of my morning fetching water,” says Matilda. “And because of this, I am able to cash more money from my sales which has helped my family.” Matilda used to have to walk 3 kilometres every day to get water for her family’s needs.

To date, well over half the households in the community have connected to the network, taking advantage of a subsidised rate for new connections. Subsidising the connection fee is one of the first steps taken by SWASCO towards assuring the community that as a utility, they are committed to providing improved services to low income areas as well as ensuring that effective channels of communication between the community and service provider are established.

Utility strengthening

But the project in Burton is just the start. Building infrastructure is important, and a visible way to build momentum, but its only one piece of the puzzle. In order to deliver effective services, other challenges need to be addressed. How can the utility best engage with low-income customers? Does it need to adapt its approach billing when working in marginalised communities? How can it increase the number of hours that water is available for? What’s its approach to leak detection and repair? All these issues are vital.

SWASCO and WSUP are therefore now conducting a utility capacity assessment to help develop a road map towards universal coverage in Livingstone. This assessment will be based on WSUP’s Utility Strengthening Framework, which provides a structured approach to improving how a utility can function, across the entirety of its operations. The assessment will set out short, medium and long term objectives for enabling SWASCO to move towards ensuring universal water coverage.

The Utility Strengthening Framework has grown out of WSUP’s Sector Functionality Framework, which helps map out the changes that need to happen in urban areas to create universal water access.

Read more about the Sector Functionality Framework

At the official launch of the Burton network, the District Commissioner of Livingstone, Madam Kawina, recognised the importance of the initiative.

“The project could not have come at a better time than now, when the need for water supply and sanitation services by the people of Livingstone is on the increase,” she said.


Learn more about our work in Livingstone.

Combining toilets and mobile tech

June 12th 2019 at 17:18

We’ve all heard it before – more people in Africa have mobile phones than have access to sewerage (according to the 2017 Afrobarometer survey, at least).

It’s not that useful a comparison when you think about the difference in cost, installation and infrastructure requirements of a toilet compared to a mobile phone, but it’s still a revealing statistic about the ubiquity of mobile technology. So why not use these telecommunications networks in the effort to increase access to safe sanitation services?

Combining toilets and tech makes a lot of sense; that’s what organisations like Gather and mWater are doing, encouraging ‘the sector’ to breach data silos so that information about sanitation gaps is accessible for everyone and – crucially – usable. WSUP have used platforms like mWater for data collection for years, and more recently we’ve been working on ways to bring that kind of digital firepower to small-scale private companies who provide sanitation services in some of the cities where we work.

One of these projects produced a prototype mobile app called ‘Pula’; the result of bringing together designers, sanitation experts, business specialists and business owners in Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia.

Pula was a response to common issues reported by business owners who offer mechanical emptying for tanks and toilets, like having to call their drivers multiple times to relay information about customers, and not knowing where their trucks were at any given moment. For small companies that operate on small margins, this kind of information could mean the difference between being a profitable enterprise or not.

The design process behind Pula was intensive and user-focused; the team followed the Design Sprint template developed by GV, so each proposed app feature responded to user requirements in a manner that they liked. Design Sprints were held in each of the four countries, resulting in a Minimum Viable Product that was then put through its paces in real-world tests with mechanical emptying companies in Maputo and Lusaka.

Practice Note - Design, Prototype, Test: using Design Sprints to develop an app for sanitation service providers

These tests revealed that the MVP itself needs more work – fundamental issues with its core design and usability means that it will have to be retooled and retested before being rolled out to a wider audience.

Topic Brief - Integrating mobile tech into sanitation services: insights from Pula

We’ve learnt some lessons from the Pula project that will inform how we approach the integration of mobile tech in the future:

  • Design Sprints meant that timelines and budgets could be reduced without having to sacrifice repeat user input and testing.
  • While the Design Sprint process itself was a success, in retrospect just focusing on one city would have been better rather than trying to build an app based on insights from four different countries.
  • Within that one city, building a relationship with one company would have meant that the app could be tested consistently over much longer time frame.
  • Focus on one problem at a time – the Pula MVP eventually only had two main functionalities: an address book feature and a truck tracking feature. But even these were reported to be too complex by target users. Producing something that solves one problem is better than something that doesn’t quite solve multiple problems.

Sanitation business involved in this project remain interested in the idea of Pula and to make it work, a simpler version of the app will need to be developed that could better respond to their requirements.